Bayside champ Ford, 5 other Trojans also qualify for East Region wrestling tournament

BERLIN — Sophomore Scottie Ford, who pinned down a Bayside Conference title on Monday, Feb. 19, is leading a Kent County crew of six wrestlers to the Class 1A/2A East Region tournament Friday and Saturday at nearby Queen Anne’s County High School.

The girls tournament, where KCHS freshman Rhi Ashley-Pinder will compete in the 110-bracket, begins today (Friday, Feb. 23).

The boys tournament is all day Saturday.

In addition to Ford, who is 34-1 at 138 pounds, Kent County has qualified sophomore Noah Iacona (12-7), 126 pounds; senior Brady Sutton (26-6), 144 pounds; junior Ethan Clark (14-2), 150 pounds; and senior Liam Gallo (11-11), 175 pounds.

As the Bayside Conference champion, Ford was guaranteed a berth in the region tournament.

The top four place-finishers at Baysides automatically qualified — which is how Sutton and Clark, who placed third in their respective weight classes, and Ashley-Pinder, who was fourth, punched their tickets.

Iacona and Gallo had piled up enough points during the dual-match season to move on.

Had Ford and Sutton not placed top four at Baysides, they still would be headed to the regional tournament because of the points they had accumulated.

Iacona and Clark have significantly fewer matches than some of their teammates, and opponents, because they missed several weeks rehabbing from injuries.

Ford’s only loss to date came in the first week of January at the Battle at the Bridge tournament to Sussex Central’s Talan Savage in the championship bout, 8-2. The final score disguised a much closer match; Ford’s foot slip gave Savage a takedown and debatable back points at the buzzer.

Since then, Ford has won 15 bouts in a row — including three by pin (1:56, 1:44 and 5:27) and a 6-0 decision over last year’s champ, Parkside junior Rocco Tulley (33-8), in the title bout in the Bayside Conference tournament Monday.

“Scottie handled his bracket,” KCHS coach Chris Yiannakis told The Evening Enterprise in an email.

Yiannakis said Ford advanced through his bracket “meticulously giving each opponent the right look, and had the crowd on their feet when he hit a standing funk roll in his finals match.”

Sutton went 3-1 plus a forfeit in his Bayside bid, wrestling back from a loss by an ultimate tiebreaker in the semifinals to Kent Island’s Cody Sandefer. After the 3-2 loss, Sutton pinned Cambridge’s Jamal Wallace in 2 minutes, 41 seconds and then decisioned Stephen Decatur’s Alex Riehl, 9-6, in the match for third and fourth.

The third-place finish is a huge step up from last year when Sutton barely got into regionals as a pigtail match.

Clark had the unfortunate draw of eventual champion Amarian Manuel of Stephen Decatur in the semis. In the wrestlebacks, he pinned Kent Island’s Ashton Main (1:29) and Mardela’s Addison Davis (1:42).

Clark, who has had two stints on the injured reserve list this season, had a great tournament, according to the KCHS coaching staff. “He continues to overcome his injuries to put his opponents away,” Yiannakis said. 

Iacona and Gallo placed fifth in their respective brackets. They each went 3-2 after a first-round bye and were ousted from the main draw in the quarterfinal round by the eventual third-place finisher.

Coach Yiannakis said a few takedown attempts finished faster might have secured a top-four placement for Iacona. But he wrestled well, especially for someone who was brand new to the sport as a freshman.

Ditto for Gallo, who also is only a second-year wrestler.

There was what some observers deemed a controversial no-call by officials in the consolation semifinals, which kept Gallo from the opportunity to wrestle for third and fourth. Gallo cradled his opponent and received a two count, but once the hold was broken no points were awarded. The final score was 5-4, with Gallo on the short end.

Senior Anthony Wilson had a tough draw in the 190-pound bracket. His first opponent was the No. 1 seed and eventual champion Kole Kohut of Stephen Decatur, and his next match was against North Caroline’s Caden Lopez. Wilson injured his shoulder in the wrestlebacks against Lopez and had to medically forfeit in the match for seventh and eighth.

In the girls tournament, Pinder had a win by fall over Queen Anne’s Bevyn Branham in the consolation semis, but lost twice to Wicomico’s Nahima Petion — by pin in her first match and by pin in the consolation finals.

In team scoring, four-time defending champ and tournament host Stephen Decatur boasted nine finalists and seven individual title winners to outclass the rest of the 15-school field with 269.5 points.

Parkside was a distant runner-up with 183 points.

Kent Island had the best finish for a North division school, third with 179.5 points.

Kent County was ninth.

LOOKING AHEAD

The region tournament is the qualifier for the state tourney; the top four place-finishers in each weight class move on to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Feb. 29-March 2.

Rhi Ashley-Pinder will meet a familiar foe in her first bout, Queen Anne’s freshman Bevyn Branham (7-13). Both received first-round byes.

In the boys tournament, all of the Trojans received first-round byes. Their second-round pairings are listed here.

Noah Iacona vs. Rising Sun junior Xzavier Brown (33-7); Scottie Ford vs. Cambridge-South Dorchester senior George Spry (22-14); Brady Sutton vs. Rising Sun sophomore Sawyer Bell (21-14); Ethan Clark vs. Stephen Decatur junior Amarian Manuel (34-8); and Liam Gallo vs. Parkside junior Canaan Mapp (22-7).

Admission is $12 for any round of the tournament and is valid for a one- or two-day meet. There is no cost for anyone 6 and younger.

Visit the GoFan website to purchase tickets, gofan.co/app/school/MPSSAA. There will be no on-site ticket sales.  

 

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